In hopes of continuing with the history of excellence, both in the pool and in the class, this year’s Men’s Water Polo team has continued to put their best effort in creating a team that is a force to be reckoned with. By having a team stacked with roughly 10 of the 14 team members in the junior and senior class (many of them having been recognized as scholar-athletes last year) the team has experience on its side.
Coming into last school year with five graduated All-Americans as well as having won the U.S. Olympic Achievement Award over the summer, UC Irvine’s men’s water polo team has caught even more national attention as it has climbed the ranks. Leading the U.S. squad this summer at the World University Games, UCI Head Coach Marc Hunt has made it clear that this year will be another in UC Irvine’s long legacy of athletic excellence.
Catching plenty of headlines in the past few months, the UCI men’s water polo team recently received the sixth rank in this year’s Collegiate Water Polo Association national preseason poll. Having the honor of being placed at the top of this poll, the men’s water polo team will still have to overcome the challenge posed by other squads like USC, Cal, UCLA, Pacific and Stanford to be able to claim the top position in this year’s national championships.
Although clenching the win will require plenty of hard work, enthusiasm and talent, the squad this year has a perfect balance of experienced playersand youthful underclassmen with raw talent (like sophomore Mitch Wise who ranks at the top of the roster having scored 30 goals last season).
The Anteaters need to fill some big shoes this year after losing the team’s top scorers from last year’s squad (seniors Brandon Johnson, Griffin Lerman and Doug Lindsay); this season will show who claims the role as top dogs on the team. Having plenty of young talent gives the team an element of surprise, seeing that opposing teams have not yet been able to analyze their playing syles or see who is the biggest threat on the team.
Perhaps the player with the biggest shoes to fill is senior Beau Moody. Taking over as primary goalkeeper after Matt Johnson led the ‘Eaters to many victories, Moody will no doubt prove to be a valuable asset as he hopes to lead the ‘Eaters to many more victories.
Kicking the year off with a bang, the ‘Eaters will start the season this year by hosting the UC Irvine Invitational that will take place on Sept. 3 and 4. The invitational will allow the Men’s Water Polo team to prove themselves, showing all of their diligence and hard work by pitting them against some of the top teams.
Being able to climb the ranks and kick off a great season, the invitational will provide a lot for the team, but most of all it will be a chance for the UCI Anteaters to band together and show support as the doors open again for fall quarter in the 2011-2012 school year.